Small, Early, and Often

Small, Early, and Often

Lessons from driving a sailboat. When I am training someone to steer a sailboat, there is always the problem of over correcting, and over steering. This is almost as true for intermediate sailors as it is for beginners.

If all we are doing is going out to cruise around in the sunshine, then this arguably enough.

What are you aiming for?

But a boat sails more smoothly when it is being steered with precision. The ride is more comfortable, the conversation more relaxed. And so I train my crew and my team to make corrections small, early, and often. You could wait until you are way off course, and make an obvious correction then. But why not focus in on EXACTLY where you are trying to go, and aim directly for the target?? And if we are racing, well then suddenly the difference between being right on course, and a degree or two off might be the difference between winning and losing!

Sail racing and business are both competitive. In business, teams that consistently hit the mark they are aiming for earn the resources to keep doing so. Let me leave you with this. Whatever goal or target your team has chosen, make your course corrections small, early, and often!!

Whatever goal or target your team has chosen, make your course corrections small, early, and often!!

Photo Credits @MKPhotomedia

It’s Already Happening

It’s Already Happening

When you are driving a car, and you turn the steering wheel, you get an immediate and noticeable change in direction.  On a sailboat this is not always the case.  Especially when there is less wind, or the boat is moving slowly on calm waters, it can be really hard to notice the effect of the steering because the boat is much slower to respond than you expect. 

So when we are sailing up to Granite Falls, which is near Vancouver, we are sailing against wind.  There a sort of trick in sailing, which allows you to zigzag up wind.  Each time we zig instead of zag, we “Tack” the boat, by making a 90 degree turn, and resetting the sails for our new wind angle.  The most common thing for someone learning to sail is to feel like the boat has not responded to the steer, and then to over correct and over steer.  I have learned that my role as both a captain and a teacher, is to offer tools to the person learning.   What works for some sailors, is to give themselves a 10 count before deciding what  the outcome of their adjustments will be.

The way that we explain this on Sailboat Coaching International trips, is that It is Already Happening. You have already done the work. You have made the adjustments. The boat is responding. Give it time to get to where you have asked it to go.

This is true in life also.  This is how. So often we are tempted to course correct, or even give up BEFORE we know if it is working or not.  With an exercise program, or a meditation habit, it can be easy to feel like you have plateaued and are not making any gains.  So long as you are doing the exercises correctly, and so long as you continue on, you will see results.  Be patient.

It is also easy to true in business.  Building a business takes time.  Building a team takes time.  The next time you are doing the work, and not seeing immediate results, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that it is already happening!



One of my favorite thing to do as I wander the docks before heading out on a sail is to check out the clever boat names and ponder over thier story.  This boat was moored next to us recently, and I LOVE the name About Time!!  

Was it a dream deferred for years?  So many people are working for the weekend, or working for retirement.  What are the sacrifices you are making, and which ones are worth it?  Was it “About Time” the owner finally learned to sail, or gave themselves the gift of being a boat owner after years of dreaming?   What dreams can you give yourself now?  What are you doing to make your now dreams your future reality?


Or was the boat named after how we spend our time?  Increasingly, I am valuing how I spend my time over how I spend my money.  Is this name about About (how we spend our) Time?   Certainly, whenever I can, I choose to spend my time at sea, with a handful of close friends who value adventure, meaningful conversation, and quality time.  



“What is freerange coaching?”  People keep asking me to explain free range coaching.  Let’s start with basic “industrial” coaching.  Whether it is life coaching, executive coaching, or even transformational coaching, it usually happens every week.  A client will get an hour on the phone, or on a video call with their coach.  Lucky clients get to see their coaches face to face.  My clients in this type of engagement are seeing the power of long term change, and there is tremendous value in that. 

There are a few coaches out there who want to give more to their clients, and we find that an intensive or an immersive experience creates ten times the results!

When I first began to settle into coaching, it was in the alpine, and we were using back country skiing, mountain biking, and ice climbing as the experience to contain the coaching.  After percolating with that, it became clear that I was meant to use outdoor activities in a focused on the specific agenda of the client sort of way.  In that intentional shift into #freerangecoaching, I thought I would do it all.  All of the adventures in all of the countries proved to be a bit much.  The commitment to focus in on Sailboat Coaching was the right alignment for me, and still, all forms of freerange coaching hold fascination for me.  I am inspired by my friends who are coaching on Canoe trips, in the tree tops, and with medieval swords!  People are coaching through forest bathing, with horses, and actual wolves!